Source: Radio Free Europe
Several leaders from European Union members have scoffed at Russia’s demand that some “unfriendly” countries will be forced to pay for its natural gas and oil in rubles, saying the move is a breach of contract.
“This would be a unilateral decision and a clear breach of contract, and it would be an attempt to circumvent the sanctions,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the start of an EU summit in Brussels on March 24.
“We will not allow our sanctions to be circumvented…the time when energy could be used to blackmail us is over,” she added.
Putin gave the government and central bank one week to figure out the details on moving operations into the ruble, with energy giant Gazprom charged with making the corresponding changes to contracts.
“This is basically a breach of contract, this is important to understand,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said of Putin’s move. [Suddenly they’re all about the sanctity of contracts. What does the contract when the Russian Central Bank opens an account in the EU look like, I wonder.]
Added Slovenian Prime Minister Janesz Jansa, “I don’t think anybody in Europe knows what rubles look like, nobody will pay in rubles.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Moscow’s demands “humiliating” and warned countries potentially affected by the move not to give in.
“If any EU country bows to Putin’s humiliating demands to pay for oil and gas in rubles, it will be like helping Ukraine with one hand and helping Russians kill Ukrainians with the other. I urge relevant countries to make a wise and responsible choice,” he said on Twitter.